Missing CDC worker found dead two months later

Disease Controls Tom Harkin Global Communications Center

The missing epidemiologist from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was informed why he didn't get a promotion shortly before he disappeared more than two weeks ago, police said Tuesday.

The local medical examiner has ruled the cause of Cunningham's death was drowning and there are now no signs of foul play, according to local police.

The Atlanta Police Department, Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office, and the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department are expected to disclose additional details during a news conference Thursday afternoon. The preliminary cause of death is drowning. The site where the body was found was not far from Cunningham's house, said Major Michael O'Connor of the Atlanta Police Dept.'s Major Crimes Section. Stafford said that rescue crews had to use boats and special equipment to reach Cunningham's body because it was located in hard terrain in a "remote area not easily accessible".

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Cunningham, who was known to collect rocks, was found with crystals in his pocket and wearing running shoes.

Cunningham worked as an epidemiologist working in the CDC's chronic disease unit.

During a news conference, police said there is no indication of foul play, and while they are still waiting on a final report from the medical examiner, it appears that Cunningham drowned.

Cunningham has been missing since February 12 in Georgia. But police have found no evidence that Cunningham's disappearance was directly tied to his lack of promotion.

Police had previously located Cunningham's keys, cellphone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet and passports.

Friends said Cunningham was smart and caring, with a big grin and big hugs to match. Cunningham has also been deployed to help during public health emergencies, including Superstorm Sandy and the Ebola and Zika viruses, his biography says. They said he had had a discussion about that on the morning he was last seen. "As a parent, you have indicators when things are just not right with your child, and that was the case". "I wish I had that opportunity to answer that text", she said later. Each time, they felt heart-wrenching agony, they said, only to learn it wasn't their son. "This is extremely hard".



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